John Holler Shoots His Wife and Takes His Own Life.

He Also Burned His House, Barn, Grain, and Machinery.

Great Excitement Over the Sad Affair and Sympathy for the Orphaned Children.

A Full Report of the Horrible Crime of the Red Handed Assassin.

The Coroner's Inquest and Funeral.

The usual quiet and serenity of this community was suddenly changed to intense excitement last Tuesday after dinner by Patrick Patton riding into town horse-back and announcing that a terrible tragedy had just been enacted at his place, by which John Holler killed his wife and then himself. The news soon spread and the excitement was high and many remarks were made the effect that the old ruffian had saved the community from taking part in a necktie party by taking his own life. His incendiary and murderous acts were the most deliberately planned and cold blooded that ever took place in this section. A great many wild and heart rending rumors regarding the crime are about, a number of which when traced up are found untrue, yet the facts, which we have taken great pains to secure, by interviewing all who knew anything of the crime are bad enough.

John Holler was a German about 65 years of age and his wife was about 40. It is said that he had been married before and his first wife died under suspicious circumstances and he afterward married the woman whose life he took last Tuesday. They came here about five years ago and he took up a quarter section of government land about three miles east of town and build a small shack on the same, but did not make his residence there. In a year or so he built quite a large frame house in town and resided in it with his family until one night the cry of fire aroused our citizens and they hurried to the scene to find his house almost a solid mass of flame and it was soon in ruins. He had heavy insurance on this building and was arrested and lodged in jail on suspicion of setting it afire to obtain the insurance, but subsequently released. The insurance company could not get sufficient evidence to convict him, yet they were so well satisfied of his guilt that they refused to pay the insurance. Holler sued the company and the case had been pending until last January term of court when it came to trial and was decided against him. After the burning of his house he moved to his land and continued to reside there with his family, making additions to the house, farming, accumulating stock and machinery, until they were in prosperous circumstances. Occasional quarrels arose between himself and wife to mar their home life and the trouble that culminated in the horrible crime arose over the fact that during his wife's absence the old man sold 250 bushels of wheat and refused to account or to give her any satisfaction as to what he did with the money which was to be applied in payment of a mortgage on some farm machinery. This trouble arose about a week before the shooting and during that time the two had many stormy words and one day the old man loaded his Winchester, a six-shooter and shot gun and threatened the lives of his family. Matters grew from bad to worse until last Tuesday when his wife, fearing that she would be murdered, left him and went to a neighbor's, the Patton's. The old man followed and asked her to return home, but she refused and told him she would no longer live with him. The old man then left the house muttering unintelligible words in broken German and went to his own home. A short time after this Mr. Patton saw the buildings and hay stacks burning and started to go to them, but had not gone far when the old man came up a ravine towards the house, with a gun on his shoulder and thinking he meant mischief, Mr. Patton returned to his house, when Holler came up told him not to come in the house when the old man leveled the gun at Mr. Patton and ordered him to go away or be shot, and told him to put Mrs. H. out of the house that he intended to kill her. Padden {sp} then went into the house and placed Mrs. Holler and her family in the cellar out of danger. He then went out and told the old man to come into the house and get his wife, thinking by this means he could trap the old field and take the gun from him, but the old man was not to be thwarted in his hellish designs in that way and refused, but ordered Patton to take his family and get out of the house, at the same time carrying out a threat by firing his gun. Patton then went into the house and got his family telling Mrs. Holler to come with them. He then took his family and started down a ravine, supposing Mrs. Holler was coming with them, but she probably feared the result and remained inside and as soon as Patton and family had left the house the old man opened fire on the building, two shots going through the door and others through the front of the house and going up to the door it is supposed his wife was either just coming from the cellar or going back into it when he fired the fatal shots, as she fell near the door with one shot through her right breast and one through her hips. After completing his murderous work the old man went to the barn, but returned to near the door of the house. He then knelt down, threw a cartridge into the barrel of the gun, placed the muzzle to his head and fired the charge, taking a portion of his skull off. Mr. Patton, seeing that the old man had completed his work, hurried back to the house and finding Mrs. Holler as above described mounted a pony and came to town. Mr. Patton had nothing with which he could defend himself and the others except the shot gun which the old man had loaded himself and which Mrs. Holler brought to the house with her and it was a single barreled gun but with the one load which left him practically defenseless. Sheriff Hays, Deputy Sheriff Spence and Dr. Stickney immediately went to the scene of the tragedy and the evidence which was given before the coroner went to substantiate the facts as above given. The buildings and other property destroyed by the fire amount to about $1,500. Five small children, ranging in age from six to fifteen years, are thus left orphans, but an elder brother, aged about twenty one years is a fireman on the Northern Pacific, and says he intends to try and keep the children together and do what he can towards their support. Universal sorrow is expressed for the little ones and the sad fate of the mother. The remains of the two people were brought to town Tuesday afternoon, Coroner Ellison summoned and after empaneling {sp} a jury viewed the remains and taking the testimony of Mr. Patton, Sheriff Hayes and Deputy Spence found a verdict in accordance with the above facts. W. A. McClure, J. W. Goodall and Chas. Pond were the juryman {sp}. The remains of the assassin were placed in a plain box on Wednesday and buried in the potter's field. The funeral of his unfortunate victim took place on Thursday, conducted by Father Perrault, of Mandan, according to the rites of the Catholic church, of which deceased was a member. Thus ends the last chapter of the most terrible crime ever enacted within the borders of Stark County.

The Dickinson Press, 3/2/1889

Hair Tonic

Posted 03/14/2017